“START BY DOING WHAT’S NECESSARY;
THEN DO WHAT’S POSSIBLE;
SUDDENLY YOU ARE DOING
St. Francis of Assisi
The first set of triplets born at St. Francis Hospital was the beginning of some very colorful children full of life and talent. When young they would dress in sailor suits and do acrobatics and all three would play the trumpet. Full of life born into a farm family they grew up knowing the meaning of work, play and faith. And one more thing, humility.
One of the three was Don. I knew him smoking meat around the area with his friend Lee. I remember hearing him pull out and play the harmonica. I remember a quiet sense of humor and a genuine concern for how you were doing.
I remember Don and Jo Ann because they were the couple you would envision when the perfect couple would be mentioned. They raised a family together and went through the tragedy of losing a beloved daughter to cancer. They bore the trials of this world with patient faith, hope, and the grace that we always would hope that we would be able to when we are faced with it.
They believed in the dignity of life and when many would be loud and rally against things like abortion, they would quietly give the hope and assistance to those who would choose to keep their babies. Working quietly with a group of volunteers out of a small garage behind St. Anthony’s Church in Garden Plain they ran the Pro Life Outreach Program.
Any mother who chose life was able to come and receive things like baby beds, formula, clothing, and many other things that helped to make raising a child a bit easier. Soon agencies from all over Wichita and many other places knew to bring the new mothers out to Garden Plain for a little assistance and a lot of love and encouragement.
Don had the knack of finding and buying the things needed to make the Outreach work. He knew where to go, who to talk to, how to get the best deal, and many times would get many of the items donated. He will be missed. But he would only tell you that there will be someone to step up and do the job. He would never consider himself to be indispensable.
Indispensable? How can someone not be indispensable who has such a strong faith in a world losing faith, who would be so humble as to not brag or bring attention to himself, who knew how to welcome everyone as a friend? Indispensable as a man who will bring a smile to my face whenever I think about him. Indispensable when I pop the one CD he made in my player of Don playing his harmonica, a thing that his daughter convinced him to make.
I will cherish the time that Don got up to play his harmonica with my friend Barry Ward at our backyard concert. A whole community has been enriched by his life and now diminished by his passing. The impact that Don made will never be known or calculated. Everything he did was done quietly and many times no one knew what he did. His influence will continue through his family and friends. And through someone who will step up and carry on where he left off.
His spirit will always be quietly behind all of us that knew him and even those who didn’t. His was a life well lived and now missed.